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[PDX] Caesar Salads (Part 2): Caprial's, Gotham, Gray's, Lauro, Papa Haydn

extramsg | Oct 1, 200506:44 AM

I was going to try to put out another burger report first, but I need to do a little more research. I'm trying to make sure I find out where all the places I cover get their meat.

So instead, here's part two of my Caesar survey. Still keeping the places spread out so hopefully there'll always be somewhere of interest. See link for more pictures, etc.

* Caprial's: Unlike many of the dishes at Caprial's, there's no doubt this is a good value. Topped with in-house smoked salmon it still doesn't top $9. The romaine leaves and salmon make for forceful flavors, but the dressing is too subtle in comparison. There is plenty of parmesan, but it's too powdery for my tastes. I didn't get any croutons, either, which is a shame. Almost a very good salad.

* Gotham: The place doesn't need any more hype from me, but I can't help but tell the truth: their salad rocks. Among the very best I've eaten in town. They use hearts of escarole instead of romaine, which has a more delicate flavor and texture. The dressing is exquisite, lemony and garlicky with a sweet finish. Like Apizza Scholls, they top it with a tasty whole fillet of anchovy. I like that method because it allows the diner to manage how much fishiness to add in each bite. Generous shavings of parmesan, too.

* Gray's: Downtown Vancouver restaurant in the Hilton. They do a better job with simpler dishes than they do with their more "gourmet" offerings. I really enjoyed their Caesar. The grilled chicken was a little dry but still tasty. The dressing was nice and they used large shavings of parmesan, which I appreciate. They garnished it with a parmesan crisp which was a nice touch. Very large salad, too. Easily a meal by itself.

* Lauro: It's nice and in keeping with their commitment to being a neighborhood restaurant that they include burgers, pizza, and a Caesar on their menu. Unfortunately, their salad is decent, but needs more care. The dressing is overwhelmed by garlic. I know some people like that (but then, there's no accounting for taste ;-)), but really even if it's assertive, it should still be balanced. The other flavors besides the garlic should be as assertive. Here they aren't. Anchovy is mentioned on the menu, but its flavor is non-existent. They skimped on the parmesan and the croutons were soft and chewy.

* Papa Haydn: I generally get in here when I'm entertaining an out-of-towner with a sweet tooth and don't want to make them go somewhere else for lunch. The savory dishes just fall short most of the time. As does the Caesar. Actually, it's a bit of a disaster. Instead of croutons, it has poorly toasted slices of baguette. Are you supposed to cut them up or make sandwiches with them? The chicken is warm and served on the lettuce making it wilt and melting the cheese. It has large wedges of tomato that detract from the salad overall. It's just misconceived from the get-go. The thing is $12, too, one of the most expensive I've had in town.



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